Man lured to remote location, ‘battered’ with iron bars, court told
Two men charged with false imprisonment, theft after alleged incident in Louth
Man was falsely imprisoned in car boot, court told. File photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times
A businessman was lured to a remote location where he was “battered” with iron bars and threatened by three men wearing masks who demanded money before he was falsely imprisoned in a car boot, a prosecution barrister has told the Special Criminal Court.
William Twomey (56), from Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down and Thomas McGuinness (33), of Chestnut Court, Johnstown, Navan, Co Meath are both charged with four non-scheduled offences.
Mr Twomey and Mr McGuinness are charged with falsely imprisoning Edward McAndrew by detaining him without his consent at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth on or about December 2nd, 2017.
Both men are also charged with assaulting Mr McAndrew causing him harm at the same location and on the same date.
Mr Twomey and Mr McGuinness are further charged with robbing car keys, approximately £200, a travel bag and its contents, a wallet and its contents, a briefcase and its contents, two mobile phones and an Irish passport from Mr McAndrew on the same occasion.
In addition, they are charged with making an unwarranted demand “to wit demanded money totalling £50,000 from one Edward McAndrew with menaces” on the same occasion.
Arraigned on the charges before the three judges of the non-jury court today, Mr Twomey and Mr McGuinness pleaded not guilty to the four counts.
Opening the State’s case on Wednesday, Anne-Marie Lawlor SC told the three-judge court that it will hear evidence from Mr McAndrew, who traded in plant machinery, as to the events that transpired at Cornamucklagh on December 2nd.
In relation to the evidence against the two accused men, Ms Lawlor said they had different roles to play in the pursuit of the joint enterprise or common design.
Counsel said Mr McAndrew was contacted through email by a person purporting to be an “Alan Mooney” and the court will hear about the content and frequency of these emails from different witnesses.
There will be evidence, the court heard, that “a fraudulent email” was communicated to Mr McAndrew under “false pretences” to get him to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louth on December 2nd and he was later “lured” to a remote location at Cornamucklagh for the execution of the offences of false imprisonment and robbery.
“The court will be satisfied that there is no Alan Mooney and there never was, the author of these emails was Mr Twomey,” said Ms Lawlor. There will be evidence that the author of the emails came from Mr Twomey’s email address, she said, and the court will be in a position to arrive at that conclusion from different strands of evidence including Google records and photographs retrieved from a computer at Mr Twomey’s home in Newry.
Ms Lawlor told the three judges that Mr McAndrew had arranged by telephone to meet with an individual, who was to sell him very specific machinery for €85,000, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Counsel said the court will hear that Mr McAndrew provided a description of this person to gardaí and told them that the man was driving a maroon Seat Toledo car. The prosecution’s contention is that this man was Mr McGuinness, she said.
Ms Lawlor also indicated that the court would hear about the journey from the Crowne Plaza to Cornamucklagh, which involved a change of vehicle and a car being driven by Mr McGuinness.
The barrister further stated that Mr McAndew will give evidence that he was brought to Cornamucklagh, where he was immediately surrounded by three men wearing masks and brandishing iron bars. “Mr McAndrew describes being battered and assaulted and being put in the boot of a car. Threats were made to him and he was told if he paid €50,000 he would be released,” she said.
Mr McAndrew will describe the items taken from him, the injuries sustained by him and how he had to get medical attention at Craigavon Hospital, she indicated.
Ms Lawlor added that evidence will be heard that an email was sent to Mr McAndrew by a man called “Barry” on December 3rd, the day after the event in Cornamucklagh, which said: “Well Eddie I told you I would be in contact......I don’t want any messing as messing causes problems. Do as we ask of you and all will be good.”
Ms Lawlor said the name “Barry” was also found on documents in Mr Twomey’s possession after the attack. There will also be evidence that data and material from Mr McAndrew’s phone had been downloaded and kept on a USB stick, which was also found in Mr Twomey’s possession, she said. Furthermore, a handwritten list of contacts taken from Mr McAndrew’s phone, which was robbed from him at Cornamucklagh, had Mr Twomey’s fingerprints on it, she added.
It is the prosecution’s case that the items found in Mr Twomey’s possession and control could only have been taken from Mr McAndrew during the course of the commission on the offence, she said.
Counsel said the court will hear about Mr McAndrew’s “prior interaction” and acquaintance with Mr Twomey, where previous threats were made against him by the accused in 2017.
Ms Lawlor told the three judges that the court will hear about the function and duties of different parties including a third person called Anthony Finglas.
Last December, Finglas (49), also of Havelock Place, Warrenpoint, Co Down was jailed for four years and nine months by the Special Criminal Court for his part in the attack on Mr McAndrew. Finglas had pleaded guilty to demanding money with menaces from Mr McAndrew at One Ferry Hill, Cornamucklagh, Omeath, Co Louth, on December 2nd, 2017.
The court will also hear evidence, the lawyer said, that an ID parade was conducted in March 2018, where Mr McAndrew identified Mr McGuinness “with absolute certainty” as the person who drove him to “the attack” on December 2nd. There will also be CCTV footage concerning the movement of vehicles at Crowne Plaza.
Another part of the prosecution case will be interviews conducted with Mr McGuinness and Mr Twomey, where the court will be invited to draw inferences from their failure or refusal to answer questions from gardaí.
In summary, Ms Lawlor said the court will be invited to draw “necessary and inescapable conclusions” from the evidence and at the conclusion of the case the prosecution will have proven beyond reasonable doubt that the two accused men committed these offences.